OK, so maybe you had to work. Maybe you were busy and forgot. Maybe you just ran out of time to prepare and missed it. You missed Easter this year! And you feel bad.
Well, don’t despair. There is good news for you; you get a second chance at Easter this year. Yep, a second chance.
You see, the second largest grouping of Christians in the world, Christians who follow Eastern Orthodoxy, celebrate Easter (we call it Pascha) a week later this year because Orthodox Christians follow a different religious calendar than most in the West.
For Western Christians, Easter is today, April 5, but for we Orthodox Christians our “Pascha” is April 12.
There are a lot of reasons for this calendar difference, but the biggest reason is that Orthodoxy follows the old Julian calendar which means our spring equinox falls on a different set date than those who follow the calendar developed by Pope Gregory in 1582.
For Orthodox Christians, we celebrate Easter after a serious time of fasting called Great Lent. During these important days of preparation we all fast from meat and dairy products as we have special services that focus our prayers and spiritual lives to be ready to celebrate the most important feast of the church year — the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Orthodox Christian Holy Week is a sight to behold with parades, bay leaves, candles, banners, incense and prayer all meant to help us take step by step the journey of Jesus through His last hours before His crucifixion, burial, and Resurrection.
Holy Thursday sees us go with Jesus as He carries His cross. On Holy Friday, we witness the Lord’s funeral procession and Him being placed in His tomb. On Holy Saturday, we witness the Lord lying in His tomb waiting for that moment when He will “trample down death by death.
And Pascha begins at midnight that Saturday with an amazing worship service that really tries to capture the joy and splendor of the Resurrection.
And you haven’t missed it!
Forsyth County is blessed by such a diverse population. Our county is home to so many people and so many treasures. Forsyth regularly ranks as one of the top counties in Georgia and the nation.
While you may think that the local Greek Orthodox Church here in Forsyth is a treasure because of our fantastic Forsyth Greek Festival every October, our greatest gift we offer Forsyth is a treasure of devotion and we invite our precious community to experience our joy at this time of year.
For a complete list of services of Holy Week and Pascha, go to www.stsrni.org.
Father Barnabas Powell is pastor of Saints Raphael, Nicholas, & Irene Greek Orthodox Church on Bethelview Road in Forsyth County.